Friday, February 26, 2016

The Assassins- the Legacy of Medieval Terrorist-Murderers

What do Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Junior, John F. Kennedy, Mohandas Gandhi, Leon Trotsky, Malcolm X, and Julius Caesar have in common?
John F. Kennedy immediately before he is assassinated.
Besides being great, world changing leaders in their times, they were all assassinated.

Do you know where assassination came from? Not the idea of assassination. Assassination has existed since the first caveman bashed his chief's skull in with a rock and took control of the tribe. What I am talking about is the word "assassination" and similar words like assassin. How did we get such a strange word?

Today, we are going to explore the Medieval Muslim cult now known as the Assassins, who gave their names to the act. We will look at how a small, hated group living in semi-isolation from the rest of the world unleashed chaos and fear in the hearts of kings, sultans, caliphs, religious leaders and the people that followed them throughout the Middle East and even into Asia and Europe.
Ismaili calligraphy.

The Nizarian Ismailis

Where does the word "assassin" come from? It was used to describe a sect of Islam, most appropriately called the Nizarian Ismailis, an offshoot of the Shi'ite branch of Islam. This small group of Muslim outsiders became famous for committing high profile murders of political and religious leaders in the Middle East, especially the leaders who were threatening Ismaili survival or beliefs.
The Ismailis split from the main tree of Islam several times to become the separate cult known as the Nizari Ismailis. I am not going to discuss the deep theological reasons for these splits, but here are the places where Islam has split that led to the Ismailis.
The family tree of Islamic sects.

  • The Sunnis and Shi'ites split soon after the Prophet Mohammed died over disagreements about who would be his successor. The Shi'ites believed that the leader of Islam should be a descendant of Mohammed, while the Sunnis believed that the leader should be elected by the other religious leaders. The Assassins fall into the Shi'ite category, which is the smaller of the two groups.
  • The next split was between the Ismailis and the Twelvers. This was another split decided by a dispute over who should rule the Shi'ite Muslims after the death of an particular imam. The Ismailis believed that Ismail should be the next imam, while the Twelvers believed that his younger brother Musa should be. Ismail either died or disappeared, and while his followers continued to wait for his prophesied reappearance, the Twelvers accepted Musa as imam.
  • The final split was between the Nizari and the Mustali branches of Ismailism. Again, this was about a succession dispute. The Caliph Ma'ad died, and his two sons, Nizar and al-Mustal fought for control. al-Mustal, the younger brother, jailed his older brother and took control. The supporters of Nizar allegedly snuck his young son out and saved him, but this is probably apocryphal.

So what we see is a few repeating patterns. The history of Islam is filled with examples of succession disputes that split the religion into smaller and smaller groups. So there was a long history of disagreement over who should rule, that frequently led to violence and murder among those who disagreed. Secondly, the Nizari Ismailis, also known as the Assassins, were an offshoot of an offshoot of an offshoot of Islam, and all three times they broke off, they were either the smaller of the two sides, or they were the people that supported the leader who had lost. So these were a people who were used to disappointment, who were frequently discriminated against, persecuted and attacked, who were fighting for their beliefs. And because they were such a small minority, and because they were attacked frequently, they had to learn to defend themselves.
Iran, formerly Persia, where much of our story takes place.

They defended themselves in a few key ways. First of all, they began to acquire or build easily defensible castles high in the mountains of Persia and Syria. The most famous of these was the fortress of Alamut, which we will discuss in more detail later. These isolated castles were well-supplied, nearly impenetrable, and far away from the big cities and armies of Islam. Secondly, the Assassins used what is known as asymmetric warfare, using strategies to overcome their small number of available people while also negating the advantages of the enemy to wage successful war against much larger enemies. The most important way that the Assassins accomplished this, of course, was assassination. If they could defeat their enemy, or at least save themselves, by sacrificing one person who would kill their enemy's king and give his life, this was a much smarter and more strategic use of available resources than sending their entire populace out to fight a losing battle. This assassination strategy, of course, became their most feared weapon, and why they are still famous today.

Old Man of the Mountain

Hassan-i Sabbah, first Grand Master of the Order of the Assassins.
The Assassins were founded by Hassan-i Sabbah, the first Grand Master, around 1080 AD. While historians disagree about why Hassan founded the order, there are a few common theories. Most historians agree that he was born a Twelver Shi'ite Muslim, and had trained to be a cleric, alongside one of his most notable future targets, Vizier Nizam ul Mulk. But around 1070, for some unknown reason, possibly because he was refused a government position alongside Vizier ul Mulk, Sabbah converted to Ismailism and turned his fury upon his enemies. Sabbah quickly gained a reputation among Ismailis as being hard-working, intelligent, and well-informed. He began to work diligently as a missionary in his hometown of Rayy, in modern Iran. After a few years of converting, Sabbah was nearly arrested by local officials, but he fled to Isfahan, another Iranian city, where the leader of the Ismailis, Abdu ibn Attash, took Sabbah under his wing and mentored him. He quickly recognized Sabbah's talents and sent him to Egypt, the center of Islamic learning of the time, to gain advanced training.
An artist's depiction of the assassination of Nizam ul Mulk.
Vizier Nizam ul Mulk in life.

While in Cairo, Egypt, Hassan-i Sabbah not only was trained in Islam, he also continued to convert followers to Ismailism, gaining himself a relatively large group of followers throughout the Middle East. Around 1080 Sabbah returned to Iran and continued attempting to convert his neighbors, while also beginning to search for headquarters for himself and his followers. Obviously an intelligent man, he knew that if his movement were to survive, it would need stout protection from the enemies his actions were sure to create. He soon found a good candidate, the fortress of Alamut. I will discuss the capture of Alamut in more detail later, but when Sabbah and his men captured it, they had a nearly unassailable castle to hide in and plan their vengeance.

There are two major reasons given for why Hassan-i Sabbah chose to begin murdering his enemies and unleashing fear into the Middle East. The first is revenge: Sabbah could never forgive his opponents for not being given a government position. The second explanation, and the one that seems more likely given the Assassins later targets, was of defense. The Assassins, as discussed above, were an unpopular and relatively weak cult or sect. They had many enemies, and their assassinations gained them many more. If this small group wanted to survive, they would have to destroy their enemies, weaken them, or keep them so afraid of retribution that they would never attack the Assassins.
A fantastic, fantasized depiction of the mysterious Assassins and the Old Man of the Mountain.

After the castle at Alamut was taken over, Hassan-i Sabbah went to work transforming the castle to his peoples needs. Once the castle was suited to the defense of his people and the conversion of new subjects, Sabbah focused almost exclusively on studying and writing doctrine for his people, as well as continuing to strengthen his followers. Sabbah was so firmly entrenched in the castle of Alamut, he never left it for the last 35 years of his life. In fact, rumor says he only left his private room twice. Hassan-i Sabbah, secretive, mysterious, and terrifying to those upon whom his wrath fell, became known to the people who spread stories about him, as the reclusive "Old Man of the Mountain."

The Origin of "Assassin"

The most common story for the word comes from an Arabic word, "hashashin." This word translates to one who consumes hashish- cannabis or marijuana. That word was then absorbed into European languages as the Latin "assassinus," which is where our word comes from today. But, if you know anything about Islam, you should be asking yourself, "Why are these devout Muslims being accused of smoking marijuana, of being stoners?" Well, the most common explanation is that calling these people "hashashin" was an insult, like calling a lazy teenager a pothead. It implied that this Assassin cult was heretical, drug-addicted, crazed, and forced to commit crimes because they were high.
Marijuana, the source of hashish.
A cake of cooked hashish.

While it is not entirely certain where the word came from, most historians agree that it was an insult or a misunderstanding, rather than something the Assassins actually did, that got them their name. It is nearly certain that the Assassins did not imbibe in hashish, because Hasan-i Sabbah (and Islam) strongly forbid drug consumption. Some historians believe that people outside of the Assassins believed they had to be on drugs, because how else could they be convinced to give their own lives to kill others? The only explanation could be drugs, right? Marco Polo, in his travels to the East, visited Alamut and included what he had heard about the Assassins in his famous story, The Travels of Marco Polo. Polo says that:
The Old Man kept at his court such boys of twelve years old as seemed to him destined to become courageous men...he gave them hashish to drink. They slept for three days, then they were carried sleeping into the garden where he had them awakened. When these young men woke, and found themselves in the garden with all these marvelous things, they truly believed themselves to be in paradise...And when the Old Man wished to kill someone, he would take him and say: 'Go and do this thing. I do this because I want to make you return to paradise'. And the assassins go and perform the deed willingly.

According to Marco Polo, Sabbah was drugging boys he thought would be good assassins. Then he placed them into his specially constructed pleasure garden ( a necessity in any Persian castle), woke them, and allowed them to experience a drug-tinged "paradise." Then he would put them back to sleep, and then re-woke them in his chamber and told them that if they wished to return to heaven, all they had to do was give their life and kill whoever the Grand Master told them to. Seems a little bit far-fetched, right? Especially coming from a book that also describes trees that have jewels growing on them. I think it is safe to call Marco Polo's account hearsay or fantasy, not the actual strategies of the Assassins. Other reasons we can discount Polo's account: hashish is not drunken; Marco Polo passed through Alamut nearly 150 years after Sabbah died; we have some of the original Assassin texts, and they never mention hashish; if you are training soldiers to attack and kill well-protected men, would you use a drug like marijuana which dulls the reflexes and makes it harder to do your work? It seems pretty unlikely.
The famous explorer and author Marco Polo.

Other historians argue that the word was used as more of a slur: rather than a user of hashish, it meant something more along the lines of "troublemaker," like stoner or junky today. It could even be used as "enemy" or "person of disrepute." Both of these sound like reasonable names to call a group of people who are killing your leaders all of the time. This theory gains further credence when you consider that in Egypt today, the term "Hashasheen" still means "noisy or riotous"-basically a troublesome person, much like the Assassins a millennium earlier.

A final theory is that "assassin" comes from "Hassassin"- a follower of Hassan. Since the Assassins were certainly followers of Hassan-i Sabbah, this name also seems to make sense. Generally, historians reject the idea that the Assassins used drugs, but not the idea that people believed they used drugs. That is the most widely cited theory, although the "follower of Hassan" and "troublemaker" theories are also popular.

Notable Stories

Now I want to discuss a few incredible stories that show off how cunning, brutal and devastating the Assassins could be.

Mountain Fortress Takeover

An artist's rendering of the difficulties of attacking Alamut.
Earlier I said I would discuss how the Assassins came to control the mountain fortress of Alamut. Some historians argue that Alamut did not actually exist before the Assassins, that Hassan-i Sabbah liked the location and built the fortress there. But the general consensus is that Sabbah discovered the castle, decided he wanted it to be his headquarters, and began to infiltrate it. Part of the reason Sabbah wanted the castle was because it was so easily defensible. First of all, it had thick stone walls. Furthermore, it was atop an 800 foot tall outcropping of rock, surrounded by mountains on two sides and with a river valley on the other two. The terrain around the outcropping was also rough, making a siege or attack very difficult, and the valley was also prone to flooding. The path to get to the top of the outcropping to even be able to attack the castle was so narrow that at times only one man could pass. The path was also full of switchbacks and dead ends, and was almost continuously exposed to attack from above. This was the only way to get to the castle, and it was so easily defended that a small group of men could hold off an attacking army. The castle had a view for miles in all directions, allowing Sabbah to view anyone who might be attacking. It is easy to see why Sabbah would want such a place.
An artistic depiction of what Alamut may have looked like under Hassan-i Sabbah.

This defensibility, of course, was an issue for Hassan-i Sabbah. He did not have a large army, and even if he had, the reason Alamut was so desirable to him was the same reason it would be so hard to take by force: it was easy to defend from attackers. So rather than try to take the castle by strength, he decided to try and take it by cunning. One story says that Sabbah offered the castle's owner a large amount of gold for the amount of land that could be enclosed "within a cow's skin." When the greedy owner accepted this offer, Sabbah cut the skin into thin strips and proceeded to surround the entire castle. While this story seems far-fetched, it is similar to how many historians believe the castle was captured: infiltration.
The ruins of Alamut, still in existence despite being torn down by the Mongols under Hulegu.
According to legend, Hassan-i Sabbah sent his followers to the castle and the surrounding area. They began to integrate themselves in the community, getting jobs in the castle and trying to convert the locals to Ismailism. They were very successful, and soon most of the people living in the castle were Ismailis. In 1090, Sabbah himself entered the castle. The commander of the castle sensed something was wrong and tried to expel Sabbah, but quickly realized that the people of Alamut now answered to Hassan, not to him. He surrendered, and was allowed to safely leave. Sabbah knew that the Sunni Muslims he had stolen it from would try and get it back. So he built even more defenses for the castle and waited. When the attack finally came a year later, many Ismailis in the surrounding country were killed, but the castles defenses held and Alamut belonged to the Assassins.

Up Close and Personal

Another interesting fact about the Assassins is how they killed their targets. Because the goal of the Assassins in killing the leaders of their enemies was to strike fear in their people's hearts, they wanted their attacks to be as public as possible. Quite often, when the Assassins killed a target, it would be in a public place, during the daytime. A preferred location was at the mosque during the daily prayer, ensuring a huge crowd of terrified witnesses. The assassin would be expertly trained in close combat, especially in the art of using a dagger to kill.  The Assassins became famous for their use of the dagger, which increased the terror of victims, and was also seen as more noble than killing with poison or with arrows. The assassin had to be close to their victim, to be able to see the pain and fear in their eyes, to see the blood. Because of the up-close nature of their killings, the Assassins were very precise in who they killed. They usually only killed their one target, and never massacred civilians, something which contrasts severely with modern terrorist groups like al Quaeda and ISIS.
Assassin daggers.
Another interesting strategy of the Assassins was that their agents were trained to give their lives after killing a target. They were not supposed to evade capture, but rather willingly give their lives up. This would increase the horror victims and witnesses would feel, knowing that a person chosen to be killed by the Assassins had no chance of survival, because the person trying to kill them was willing to sacrifice their own life to take their victim's. This willingness on the part of the Assassins to give their lives up probably unwittingly contributed to the belief that they were high on drugs, because it was so hard for the average person to understand their decision.

A final interesting technique the Assassins used repeatedly was infiltration. We saw how they infiltrated the fortress of Alamut to take it over, but they also frequently infiltrated the households of their enemies to get close to a target. The Grandmaster would send a man or men to the household of the next target, where they would ingratiate themselves into the household, working as bodyguards, advisors, grooms or other low-level work. When they had gained the trust of the target, they would strike, sometimes after years of working for him. This would be all the more terrifying because the intended targets would have no idea that their assassin was in their midst until it was too late. Eventually, it contributed to an atmosphere where no one who was a potential Assassin target could fully trust anyone, which was the goal of the Assassins in the first place: instability, fear and chaos for their enemies. The Assassins did not have to kill their enemy for this strategy to be effective.
Another Assassin fortress.
The Egyptian Sultan Salal al-Din (Saladin) was attempting to destroy the Assassins and agreed to negotiate with them after they threatened his life. When the Assassin's ambassador arrived to speak with Saladin, he requested that Saladin have all his men leave the room so they could negotiate in private. Saladin sent everyone from the room- except his two bodyguards. The Assassin ambassador again requested that he send everyone out of the room, because he  wanted privacy. Saladin responded that these two men were his most trusted bodyguards, that they would do nothing without his command. The ambassador turned to these two men and asked, "If I commanded it, would you strike this man down?" Both men said yes. Saladin, possibly the most powerful man in the Middle East at that time, a man so powerful he had ruined King Richard the Lionheart's attempt to conquer Jerusalem in the Third Crusade, had been infiltrated! Not only that, but his best, most trusted men were actually Assassins! A shocked Saladin agreed to peace with the Assassins, hoping to save himself from such a dangerous enemy.
Saladin, Sultan of Egypt.

An Offer You Can't Refuse

Another tale, similar in its goal of persuading an enemy of the Assassins from continuing to attack them, has been attributed as happening to both Saladin and a Persian viceroy, Sanjar ibn Malik Shah. Whether this story happened to one of these men and was attributed to the other later, or whether the Assassins used the same technique of persuasion twice is hard to tell. But the story goes that one of these men was attacking the Assassins and attempting to destroy them. The story says that the Grand Master bribed a member of the victim's court to plant a dagger in the victim's room, in Saladin's case with a note. In the Saladin version of the story, it was even rumored that the Grand Master himself snuck into Saladin's room and buried the dagger in the ground. In the Saladin story, the note says that if Saladin does not withdraw his troops, he will be killed. But in the Malik Shah story, he does not know who left the dagger. Soon after, an Assassin ambassador arrived at his court with a letter from Hassan-i Sabbah:
Did I not wish the Sultan well, that dagger which was stuck into the hard ground would have been planted in his soft breast.
Malik Shah took the Godfather-style, horse-head in the bed warning to heart. He quickly signed a peace agreement with the Assassins that lasted nearly twenty-five years. The key idea from this story is that the Assassins were so feared, and their threat taken so seriously, that just leaving a dagger as a warning was enough to deter an enemy's attack.
Sanjar ibn Malik-Shah.

Twelve for One 

One of the more ingenious ways the Assassins managed to cripple an enemy took place against the Saljuq Turkish Empire in modern Iran. The Assassins had begun to target the sons of the previously assassinated Vizier Nizam ul Mulk, Hassan-i Sabbah's old schoolmate. Nizam's son, Fakhr ul Mulk, was killed in 1106 by an Assassin dressed as a homeless man. Like all Assassins were trained to do, the Assassin gave himself up and allowed himself to be captured. The Assassin was tortured for information, and he gave, among other names, the names of the twelve senior advisors to ul Mulk as collaborators with the Assassins. All of these men were immediately seized and executed... and then proved to be totally innocent afterwards! There is no evidence that this was a planned action for the Assassin to take, but it worked pretty well! Not only did he take out Fakhr ul Mulk, one of the senior leaders of the Saljuq Empire. He also took out twelve of his senior advisors- and it only cost one Assassin life! Talk about the fear and confusion that was swirling around the targets of the Assassins. The second their advisors were accused, they were executed, even though they had done nothing! The Assassins brought pure chaos to the lives of their enemies.


The routes taken by the European Crusaders to the Holy Land.
The Assassins also had a number of interactions with the European Crusaders who were trying to capture the Holy Land. While there are no incredible stories about these interactions, the Assassins were surely a further destabilizing force that made it difficult and ultimately impossible for the Crusaders to capture Jerusalem, let alone the Middle East. The Assassins killed several key Crusader leaders, most notably Marquis Conrad of Montferrat in 1192. Conrad had been waiting to be crowned King of the Crusader Kingdom, the top leader of the Crusade. His death caused a huge amount of instability in the Crusader Kingdom, ultimately forcing them to make a deal with Saladin to abandon their holdings in Syria. In fact, there is some evidence that Saladin had made a deal with the Assassins to specifically target the Crusaders.
Conrad of Montferrat, would-be Crusader King.

In later Crusades, the Assassins were still a tangible force for the Crusaders to deal with. Other less significant leaders including Raymond of Antioch and Philip of Montfort were assassinated. But at times, the Crusaders also worked with the Assassins. During his crusade, Frederick II of Prussia, the Holy Roman Emperor, paid the Assassins protection money to not attack him. Louis IX of France allowed an Assassin Embassy to meet with him while he crusaded in Egypt. And Bohemond of Tripoli, another Crusader leader, even employed Assassins to kill a Muslim Sultan he was struggling against. So there were definitely times where the Crusaders and the Assassins were able to work together for common good. This does not take away the fact that the Assassins were mortal enemies of the Crusaders most of the time. This meant that the Crusaders had two terrible enemies- the Assassins and mainstream Islam.
Depiction of the Crusades.
So the Crusaders were probably overjoyed when they heard rumor of a great Eastern Christian King, Prester John, and his descendent, "King David of India," who was leading his troops West to destroy Islam and unite with his European Christian brothers. The rumors, in fact, said that Prester John had already destroyed the Persian Saljuq Empire, was heading to Baghdad to destroy it, and had the final intention of rebuilding Jerusalem. It seemed as though their prayers had been answered. And they had...sort of. For this "King David" was not named David, nor was he a Christian from India. His name was Genghis, and he was from Mongolia. Christianity? He was willing to listen, just as he was for Islam, Buddhism, and any other religion.
An artistic rendering of the hoped for Prester John.

The Wrath of Khan

A map of the Mongol Empire.
Genghis Khan and his troops had in fact destroyed the Muslim Khwarezmian Empire in Central Asia, and he certainly planned to attack Persia and the Middle East (along with the rest of the world). By 1231, the Khwarezmians were gone. After the death of Genghis, the Mongols pulled back into Mongolia and China. While the Mongols had many interactions with Muslims throughout the Middle East in these years, they mostly ignored the Assassins. But in the 1250s, the new Great Khan, Genghis' grandson Mongke, began to hear about this dangerous sect of Muslims that attacked and killed great leaders. In that year, the Grand Master also sent 400 Assassins to Mongolia to try to kill the Great Khan, but this mission was thwarted and all 400 men were executed. This enraged Mongke Khan.
Genghis Khan

Mongke sent his brother Hulegu to Persia in 1253 with express orders to destroy the Assassins. By 1256 Hulegu's army had reached Persia and had besieged the various castles belonging to the Assassins, including Alamut. The Grand Master was a young, relatively inept man named Rukn Khur-Shah who was nothing like as talented or intelligent as his predecessor Hassan-i Sabbah. Khur-Shah tried to negotiate with Hulegu, but was rejected. He tried to hold out in his castle, but was forced to surrender after he was surrounded on all sides by Mongol forces and trebuchets. Khur-Shah was forced to order the other Assassin castles in Persia to surrender, including Alamut. All of them were torn to the ground. The Assassin castles in Syria were also ordered to surrender, but this was ignored, and at the time the Mongols did not have the ability to force them to. Instead, the Syrian Assassins were taken over by the new Mamluk Muslim Empire that captured much of the Middle East. The Syrian Assassins were forced to give their castles up to the Mamluks and do their bidding, including an attempt on the life of King Edward of England while he was on Crusade.
Mongke Khan, Genghis' grandson.

The Assassins made several attempts to save themselves, but all failed. In 1238 the Assassins tried to send embassies to England and France to create an alliance against the Mongols, but they were rejected. In 1253 they tried to murder Mongke Khan but the mission failed. Ultimately, nothing the Assassins tried was able to stop the juggernaut that was the Mongol Empire. The last Grand Master, Rukn Khur-Shah, was executed along with his entire family in 1257. The Mongols also rounded up all male Nizarian Ismailis of fighting age and executed them en masse, along with any other Ismailis they could find. Ultimately, the efforts of Hassan-i Sabbah worked too well. The Assassins became so feared that the Mongols, the most powerful nation of that time, were forced to act. And these actions by the Mongols resulted in the elimination of the Order of the Assassins.
Hulegu, brother of Mongke and destroyer of the Assassins.

Legacy Today

By 1275 the Assassins as a political terror group were no longer in existence. But what happened to the Nizarian Ismailis? As a people, they numbered in the tens of thousands, and the Mongols, despite their best efforts, could not eliminate them all. The surviving Ismailis scattered throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and India, where they still exist in small communities even to this day.

As for the legend and legacy of the Assassins: there are many ways in which the Assassins impact the world today. The first is obviously the word "assassin." While they did not create the concept, they surely influenced it and gave it a name which we still use today.

Secondly, fear of the Assassins was still firmly imbedded in the psyche of world leaders centuries later. In 1332, King Phillip of France, while planning a new Crusade, was warned against
The Assassins, who are to be cursed and fled...I therefore know only one single remedy for the safeguarding and protection of the king...none should be those...[who are] fully and clearly known.
It is remarkable that nearly a century after the Assassins were last active, a French king was still being warned against them. Stories of the exotic East became popular in Europe, and myths and legends became accepted as fact, stories which surely included the Assassins and the Old Man of the Mountain. These legends are surely the stories King Phillip heard as he prepared to embark for the Middle East. They are probably the same stories that inspired Dante Alighieri to include an Assassin in his Divine Comedy:
I stood there like the friar who takes Confession from the treacherous assassin.
Stories like The Adventures of Marco Polo and The Divine Comedy, along with less famous stories, were inspired by the legend of the Assassins.
Author Dante Alighieri.

Thirdly, the Assassins inspire popular culture even today. Many books, movies, and even the massively popular Assassin's Creed video game series have been inspired by the ancient cult. While few do real justice to the Assassins themselves, it shows how deeply imbedded the Assassins are, nearly a thousand years after the order was founded.
The massively popular Assassin's Creed Video game series.

So now you know. Assassin probably did not come from people smoking hashish. And assassination certainly was not created by the Assassins. But the myth of the Assassins has long outlived the actual Assassins. The culture of fear, chaos, confusion and mystery the Order created continues to impact us today. While the ancient world probably did not appreciate them much, I have to appreciate such bold, creative and devastating men as Hassan-i Sabbah!


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